O Brother, Where Art Thou, By Ethan And Joel Coen

1816 words - 8 pages

Written by Ethan and Joel Coen and released on DVD by Touchstone Pictures and Universal Pictures in 2001, O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? is supposed to be the first professional film in history to be digitally enhanced, in its entirety. The movie is a loose adaptation of the epic poem The Odyssey in which three escaped convicts; Everett Ulysses McGill (George Clooney,) and his two partners Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and Pete (John Turturro) experience the adventures of “Ulysses” (Homer) in varying ways. The actors meet along their way: “the Blind Prophet, the Cyclops, and the Sirens,” (Homer) all members of The Odyssey. This is intermixed with characters from the 1930’s including ...view middle of the document...

) This step gives sharper images to work into a crisp finished project. The omission of shading reduces the need to shoot at certain times of the day, or under certain weather conditions, or the time of year, allowing for scheduling to be reduced. This one deviation led to better image quality, for the entire editing process. The whole filming sequence had sharp, clear film to work with, and this allowed for greater detail when editing. The entire film was modified digitally and then a new film was created with the use of lasers (Priestnall.) Consistency was achieved by this process and the movie viewers were given a glimpse into the future of filming.

There was an example given, in one of the extra features of the DVD, PAINTING WITH PIXELS, which explained the car chase involving Baby Faced Nelson, took 15 days to shoot. This was edited to five minutes in the final film, giving a good look into the time span involved to shoot a single scene (Silvers.) The car chase scene starts at a gravel road intersection surrounded by farm fields, and ends in a busy city street having tall buildings, people, and cars to blend into a harmonious background. The colors and varying structures would have been difficult to blend into a smooth flowing transition from rural to city. The high angle camera was used in both scenes to continue the viewer’s perspective and aid in the transition. The digital manipulation of details and tone within a variety of scenes shows the power of the modification process. This in turn reduces the cost of filming the project, adding to the profitability of the film.

The audience was given a trip back in time to experience the prison system of Mississippi, the antiquated methods of transportation, and the racial prejudices of the 1930’s. These aspects of the film were not part of Homer’s Odyssey, but one character derived from The Odyssey, the “Blind Prophet,” (Homer) was played by Lee Weaver on a railroad handcar. This actor professed to the trio that the treasure sought by them was not the treasure they would find. This was near the beginning of the film and he –saw- at the end of the movie the treasure was as he depicted. The filming of this production followed his prediction blindly with the result being a treasure not imagined, a new way to produce film.

The next correlation to Homer’s work was the Cyclops (John Goodman,) depicted as a traveling salesman. Initially the Cyclops wore a patch over the deformed eye that precluded the viewer from viewing the affliction. Later in the movie, the Cyclops was shown as a KKK member wearing a hood, again preventing the viewer to see the deformed eye. Then the affliction was shown to the audience when the Cyclops lifted the hood. Through digital manipulation, the eye was shown to be white and not round. This process saved the actor from wearing a contact to achieve the effect. The actor was spared trouble, and the filming saved time each day using the digital manipulation of film....

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